A Glimpse of Mount Olive History

Mount Olive, as a town, came into being with the railroad.  The Gulf & Ship Island line reached this part of the county in 1899, and the town plat, dated December 15, 1899, included an area about two miles square.

The name “Mount Olive” was used in the area even before the town was incorporated in 1900.  Some say the name came from a town in North Carolina where early settlers had lived.  A post office named Mount Olive was established as early as 1858 near the location of Olivet Presbyterian Church and McNair’s Mill northwest of the town.  When the post office moved closer to the railroad, the name “Mount Olive” was also given to the developing town.

Downtown view of Mount Olive, circa 1930’s. Note unpaved street and center parking on the boulevard

A wide thoroughfare was laid off as Main Street with the lanes separated by a median on which more than 100 oak trees were planted.  Main Street was paved in 1931, and until the 1960s the town was known for having the only four-lane section of Highway 49 between Jackson and the coast.

Mount Olive was a timber and agricultural trading center from its beginning.  Three lumber companies located here during the first decade of the town’s existence, and many large and small businesses were opened on Main Street and on the blocks off Fifth and Sixth Streets.  Another important business in the town was the cotton compress, which averaged 25,000 bales each year, and three cotton gins operated in town at one time.

In addition to timber, agriculture and general businesses, Mount Olive has also had some industrial development.  Neco Manufacturing Company made electric blankets, and F. J. McGill Mfg. Company produced Mount Olive jeans.  W. E. Blain & Sons Contractors and Blain Sand and Gravel Company have headquarters in Mount Olive and they along with the school are the town’s largest employers.